It’s the time in the decade when the BBC’s Charter, granted by Parliament, comes up for review.
The BBC’s enemies in government and the commercial media combine to throw at it everything they’ve got, and its friends – unions, citizens, campaigning and consumer groups representing the rest of the population gather to defend it.
That’s not always easy given BBC’s management propensity to cave into threats and accept much of the opposition’s agenda.
Just look at the way the broadcaster’s Director-General Tony Hall agreed to fully fund TV licences for the over 75s from 2020 at an estimated cost of £650m a year.
And this before the public consultation on Charter Renewal had even begun! More recently Hall has warned (Guardian, 25 August) that further cuts to the corporation’s funding and remit could result in more than 30,000 job losses across the TV industry.
There is much more at issue than the BBC’s structure, budget and rules of operation. The entire future of public broadcasting would be undermined if it loses its role as a universal public service.
With the successful parliamentary launch of the broadcasting unions (including Unite) Love it or Lose it campaign in June, the fight for the future of our BBC is well underway. But the campaign needs to broaden its appeal.
The BBC has significant public support which needs to be mobilised. It is also quite clear that the present government with its small majority does not reflect this support and will try and brush it off, aided by its friends with their commercial interest in the national and regional press.
That’s why we need a wide ranging campaign to protect the BBC and safeguard the future of public service broadcasting. The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom is holding an open meeting to discuss the next stages in that campaign on Monday September 21 at 6.00pm at the NUJ HQ 308/312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1. Come along with your ideas to build the campaign.
Unite supports and participates in the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom ever since its inception. For more details about the Campaign see www.cpbf.org.uk
Ann Field is an ex-Unite officer and chair of campaign for press and broadcasting freedom